Jeb Bush says revenue increase could be part of budget deal

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) said Monday that revenue increases could be a part of a budget deal with President Obama, provided the president is willing to do big things to get the deficit under control.

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During an appearance on NBC's "The Today Show," Bush said it’s not the time to talk about increasing taxes after what he called the biggest tax hike in American history two months ago following the fiscal cliff deal. But he also wouldn’t rule out the idea that revenues could be part of a package -- something Republicans in Congress have said is off the table.

“There may be (room for revenue) if the president is sincere about dealing with our structural problems,” Bush said.

Bush, though, criticized the president for his conduct in the final days of the sequester debate, saying he "oversold" the negative consequences of the sequester.

“There was a lot of crying wolf,” Bush said. “The president kind of led the charge to say that widows and orphans were going to be out on the street. So when it didn’t happen, he actually himself had to step back on Friday to say it wasn’t going to happen that way."

Bush will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference next week -- the same conference that has decided to exclude New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Bush said that he "loves Chris Christie" but also suggested CPAC had a legitimate reason for excluding him.

"I think the issue of (Christie) castigating the House particularly for not going along with a $60 billion spending deal that had very little to do with Sandy recovery," Bush said. "When it got down to funding Sandy, House Republicans went along with that."

Bush wagered a guess that Christie would be invited to future CPACs after he is reelected this year.

As for whether he might join Christie in the 2016 presidential race, Bush wasn't going to make any news.

“That’s way off into the future," he said. "I have a voice. I want to share my beliefs about how the conservative movement and the Republican Party can regain its footing, because we’ve lost our way.”

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · March 4, 2013